And thus once again we find ourselves at the end of the year, not having QUITE finished the project begun in January :). But because I had a special request, I am jumping out of sequence to bring you Shelf 8: The Kenshingumi!
Now anyone who is at all familiar with me knows how much I love the story of the young samurai, blessed with enormous strength in spite of his diminutive stature, who becomes an assassin for the Choshu Ishin Shishi hoping to usher in an age of peace and equality for the people of Japan. He thus does all the wrong things for what he believes are the right reasons; the tale of his attempt to atone for the wrong things is heartwrenching and moving. Over the 8 years I’ve been collecting ball-jointed dolls I’ve attempted to recreate some of the characters from the show.
Kenshin, at the left, is my oldest full-sized doll; he’s an Elfdoll Red on the original, short, body. And while he has “mellowed” somewhat, that color is his homme skin that is an exquisite color. Directly behind him is my Sagara Sanosuke, a Dollzone Yuu on the original DZ 70cm body. Sano, originally a “fighter-for-hire,” is pretty much Kenshin’s best friend and cheerleader. Next to Sanosuke is Megumi, the female doctor who loves Kenshin but knows it’s hopeless; by the end of the series she and Sano are leaning toward becoming a couple though they never quite get there. Megumi is a Unidoll Dahlia, one of the most delightful dolls I’ve ever handled.
In front of Megumi is Kamiya Kaoru (or “Kaoru-dono” as Kenshin calls her in his highly formal-polite fashion). Kaoru, who is assistant instructor in the martial arts dojo she inherited from her late father, is a formidable fighter in her own right. She accepts Kenshin unconditionally as he is, even knowing that he had a past, and eventually becomes his second wife and mother to his son Kenji. Kaoru is a Custom House Naye – she was Kenshin’s choice after several other attempts to find the proper Kaoru sculpt failed.
Down in front is something of an enigma. He’s a little Dollzone Jing who has been known as Shinta (Kenshin’s birth name) but really, if we’re going by size, ought to be Kenshin and Kaoru’s son Kenji. He’s as he is, regardless, and one of my favorites.
In the middle front are two of the teenage leads: Myojin Yahiko and his girlfriend Tsubame, a girl Yahiko meets at a local restaurant and whom becomes his girlfriend. Yahiko is the son of a former samurai and wants nothing more than to have people respect him for it; Kenshin gently turns him from the path he was pursuing as a pickpocket toward a more noble way of life. Yahiko is an Iplehouse Ryan and Tsubame is a Mini Dollfie Dream / Obitsu hybrid, in part a gift from my Best Friend and Natural Enemy ™ Kymaera (Onomatopoeia on Den of Angels).
Behind them we have two of the main antagonists in the show. Shishio Makoto, he of the toasty and bandaged appearance, is the newest of my Kenshingumi being portrayed by Ace, a limited Elfdoll tan K from his first release. (it seems somehow fitting that Ace should end up bandaged… 😀 ) Shishio is the man who took over Kenshin’s position as assassin for the Ishin Shishi after Kenshin gave up his sword. He’s not a nice man.
To his left is the familiar Hajime Saito, whom I put together long before Volks made their glorious Saito-san. This one is a DiMdoll special event head on a Dollmore body. Saito was a historical figure, captain of the 3rd squad of the Shinsengumi and as such on the opposite end of the war from Kenshin. The two hated each other, but ten years on at the time of the anime, they grow to have a deep respect for each other’s military genius and sword skills.
Finally we have the younger version of Kenshin – the Hitokiri Battousai, most feared assassin of the Bakumatsu according to people 10 years later. He’s cold-blooded and single-minded…until he meets the woman who becomes his first wife, Tomoe. My Battousai is also an Elfdoll Red with a reminiscence head I modded to have that half-mast eyelid look. Tomoe is a Dollmore Ha-Yarn Cho head on a Unidoll body.
Finally, behind them we have Kenshin’s swordsmaster, Hiko Seijuro the Thirteenth, master of the Hiten Mitsurugi school of swordsmanship. The name Hiko Seijuro is actually a title passed to each successive leader of the school; Kenshin technically wins the title of Hiko Seijuro the IVth by besting his master in battle but declines to take either it or the horrid re-collared cape that goes with the title.
My Hiko is an Iplehouse Chase (with a damaged faceup that I have not yet repaired), and his outfit is a prime example of my theory that it only needs to be a reasonable facsimile of the real deal. Especially since the real deal in anime so often is inhumanly difficult to sew! His trademark sake jug was specially commissioned specifically to fit that big old hand and it really is the perfect touch, in my view. It was important to find a doll who was manly and macho looking AND a full head taller than Battousai. Chase not only fit the bill but bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my Kenshin posters.
To the left of the main group of Kenshingumi, and standing between shelf 6 and shelf 8 is Himura. Himura is of course Kenshin, but he’s my Big Kenshin and thus goes by the family name rather than the given name to save confusion. He’s an Iplehouse realskin Bichun EID, who I got and customized well before the first Kenshin live-action movie. I was startled to find how much he resembles Takeru Satoh, the live-action Kenshin who so owns the role.
Happy Holidays to all from the Kenshingumi!